Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Likely the most significant player in the RAM game has come out with a newer series of modules, which fits the mold of the Flare X of DDR3 days, wherein AMD systems are what these DIMMs are tuned to be used with. That is not to say they will not work on Intel systems, just that they should work better with AMD than many of the sticks which boast only XMP 2.0 compatibility. While in our own testing, we have had reasonably good luck with the RAM we can run on our X570 motherboard, where it appears only the older Hynix chips caused us issues. However, with as finicky as we have seen some motherboards be with various memory kits through multiple forums, we are all for any advantage to the general public on eliminating compatibility issues right out of the gate!
Borrowing their looks from the already established TridentZ lineup of products, the NEO kits show two differences to the regular TridentZ RGB kits. The more obvious of the two is that G.Skill paints the word NEO on the heat spreaders, just below the typical TridentZ naming. The other difference is that the angled tops of the heat spreaders, only the tallest ones, are exposed metal rather than being painted as all the rest have been. Selections are vast, as even just within the 3600MHz kits, we have five options! You can find CL14 kits that need 1.40V to run, and there are two CL 16 kits, one with straight timings which we have, and another that has 16-19-19 timings, both requiring 1.35V to run.
Another option is to go with CL18 sticks using 1.35V, or there is yet another CL14 kit, but it needs 1.45V to run the XMP and DOCP profiles. While there are many choices, we have seen reviews out in the wild using Hynix ICs for those kits with odd timings, and those requiring a lot of voltage to match other similar kits. Like ours, we believe it is only the F4-3600C14D-16GTZN and the F4-3600C16D-16GTZN we have that use Samsung B-die under the hood.
This memory, being only the second kit so far that we have tested with an AMD Ryzen icon on the box, we are hoping that these do as well, if not better than the Patriot Viper 4 Blackout Edition we last tested. With its lesser timings, it only makes sense that the NEO should offer a nice bump in performance, and we plan to find out! What might be a tad shocking to most, is that not only is the G.Skill TridentZ NEO impressive for AMD and our 3900X but with our Intel testing, we found there was room left in the tank to squeeze out even more! For those that love the look of the TridentZ RGB already, the newer TridentZ NEO will be a welcome addition to any AMD or Intel-based system.
Within the chart we used, taken from the F4-3600C16D-GTZN product page, we find the information listed to be straight forward, to the point, and delivers just about anything you would need to know. At the top, we see that this is DDR4, and the kit we have is a pair of 8GB sticks for a total of 16GB of density in this dual-channel kit. Ours is shown to run at 3600MHz using 16-16-16-36 1T timings and sticks to 1.35V to power them. It is unbuffered, it does not error check, but we are shown the 2133MHz and 1.20V required for them to boot with the SPD profile. There are no fans included, but there is a limited lifetime warranty backing these sticks. They come with an XMP 2.0 profile, which our X570 board reads as DOCP, and there is a notation that the XMP frequency does depend on the motherboard capabilities, as well as the memory controllers.
One thing not mentioned is that while G.Skill does offer TridentZ Family Lighting Control Software that is downloadable, most would instead opt to match the motherboard RGB lighting these days. On-site, as well as on the packaging, G.Skill does make sure we know that MSI Mystic Light Sync, ASUS Aura Sync, and GIGABYTE RGB Fusion are all cable of delivering full control of the RGB lighting found in the NEO series. Another thing not mentioned is the height of the sticks. Still, they match to anything else in the TridentZ lineup at 43.7mm, which should not cause much of a clash between it and any CPU air cooler that offers and sort of design implementation for memory clearance. However, if populating all of the memory slots, you may still block some of the RGB goodness.
Pricing certainly varies between all of the 3600MHz TridentZ NEO kits, starting at around $100 and increases on up to $194.20 for the F4-3600C16D-16GTZN kits we have, on Amazon. Judging off past TridentZ kits and the prices they released at, this is not that much of a surprise, but there are better deals to be had! Another thing that is a turn off to the Amazon listings is that neither Amazon nor G.Skill is listed as sellers, it is a list of third-party retailers looking to profit as much as possible. If you shop at Newegg, you can save a fair bit of cash, as the same exact kit is listed there for just $159.99 with Newegg registered as the seller! As to comparison shopping, the only other kit with 3600MHz and CL16 timings that are more affordable are the 16-19-19 TridentZ NEO kits, as far as anything with RGB lighting that is.
As for non-RGB lit kits, they start at around $100, and just so happens that they are all RipjawsV kits, with much less heat spreader and with looser timings. Head to head, and the comparable CL 16 straight timing kit is $124.99. So, for a much nicer aesthetic and RGB, it is only a $35 step up! We think the proof is in the pudding, and once you see how the TridentZ NEO wrecks the competition in the vast majority of the benchmarks, its worth is definitely justified!
Packaging and G.Skill TridentZ NEO
The box that our TridentZ NEO arrived in shows us quite a bit. At the top, we see G.Skill makes it, and that is DDR4, but we also get to peek inside of the box and see the NEO RAM behind plastic. The bulk of the panel is used to show the memory in full RGB display mode, and we can also see the bare metal edges of the fins. Along with the TridentZ NEO name at the bottom, we also see the Ryzen/AMD notation, which means it is designed to work better with AMD than many of the kits out there.
The back of the box says it much better than we could about how the NEO line is engineered for premium AMD performance. In the text at the top, they also cover the aluminum spreaders, the use of high-screened ICs, and a 10-layer PCB. Across the lower half, we see the G.Skill info on the left for many ways of communication with them. We mentioned the motherboard RGB system compatibility, but this is the first time we have seen the part number, speed, density, timings, and voltage of the F4-3600C16D-GTZN version of the TridentZ NEOs.
We omitted the G.Skill sticker, but you will find a red one inside of the box, along with these sticks, inside of plastic inner packaging. One look and you instantly think TridentZ memory, as that is the intention, but G.Skill sets the NEO apart in subtle ways. The name NEO painted on the black brushed aluminum section is a dead giveaway, but let's imagine that it isn't there. The tip of the fins at the top of the heat spreader is exposed for the NEO line, and we also picked up on the textured gray area on the left, which on the standard TridentZ sticks would be brushed aluminum, not textured and painted.
The other side of both sticks looks identical to what we just saw in the last image, down to all but one detail. The side that is typically not exposed, unless on Intel's HEDT systems offers the product sticker. On the left, we see when the kit was produced, while the rest of it covers anything you would want to know about the kit, even down to the serial numbers.
From the top, again, most would assume TridentZ, and while not wrong, aside from the exposed outer edges, viewed from the top, nothing else is there to differentiate them. The white plastic RGB LED diffuser is the same we see on TridentZ RGB kits, where the G.Skill name is painted on both sides as well as the center of the top.
Rather than risk damage to sticks, we opted to open Taiphoon Burner to have a look at what is under the hood. Doing so shows us that we are indeed dealing with Samsung ICs, the K4A8G085WB-BCPB, to be exact. It is hard to go wrong with B-die ICs with good timings, 10-layer A1 PCB, and for those worried about such things, there is even a thermal probe that will show up in software like AIDA64, or whatever software it is you prefer.
On our X570 ASUS motherboard, we let it control the RGB LEDs, and the effect is as pleasing as other components in sync with each other. As the motherboard LEDs and the head unit of the AIO change colors, their corresponding color is met at the bottom of the TridentZ NEO. Sleek looking, and easy to control, what more can one ask?
On the OCF for Intel testing, our X299 has BIOS-level options for colors, and the AsRock software is a bit more than dysfunctional for us. That being said, even allowing the G.Skill to do their thing, with our block going through a spectrum of colors on its controller, we found that the TridentZ NEO does still play well with others. As our block and fans moved to the green they are now; you can see the top left stick is also turning the same color. It may be luck, but the timing of this cooler and the TridentZ NEO kept in sync, even though there was no control over the memory applied.
Test System Details
To obtain the following CPU-Z images as well as the performance seen in the charts, we are using this AMD system to do so. For this system, we were helped by ASUS, Corsair, and GIGABYTE. Shout outs go to them for supporting us!
After a boot with the SPD profile being successful, we went right to it and enabled DOCP. Doing so has the memory on the proper divider, even though our bus speed is slightly less than 100MHz by default. As the box and the sticker show, we are getting 3600MHz with 16-16-16-36 1T timings. To do so, the VDIMM moves to 1.35V, with the SOC set to 1.080V, with complete stability.
As we do, we attempt to lower the timings, using only a tenth of a volt added to the VDIMM as well as the SOC. Changing that pair of settings, and then diving into the memory menu allowed us to drop down to 14-14-14-36 1T. We did use 1.45 VDIMM and 1.180V to the SOC to achieve this, but we have done better than the best-binned set of F4-3600C14D-16GTZN, and without the price-premium attached.
While we may have had higher hopes for the headroom to push this kit further, anything over the XMP profile is a bonus, and we have to remember that. Even so, we were still able to get another 200MHz out of them while keeping the XMP 2.0 profile timings! We did tinker, and opting for 2T did not change things, we had to go to 17-17-17 at 1.45V to get any more speed out of them.
Chad's AMD DDR4 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VIII HERO Wi-Fi - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Corsair H150i PRO - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER Gaming OC 8GB - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Corsair Force MP500 480GB NVMe - Buy from Amazon
- Case: Thermaltake Core P5 TG - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750x 750-watt - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
To obtain the following CPU-Z images as well as the performance seen in the charts, we are using this Intel system to do so. For this system, we were helped by Corsair, and are using the same card from GIGABYTE seen in the AMD rig. Shout outs go to them for supporting us here as well!
Once the kit is installed on to the X299 motherboard, we went into BIOS and set the XMP. Upon rebooting, we found ourselves at 3600MHz with 16-16-16-36 timings, just using the 2T command rate this time. Allowing the motherboard to set the voltages, we saw 1.35 VDIMM, 1.20 VCCIO, and 1.35 VCCSA.
As we have found with many kits, with similar voltages applied, they tend to bottom out at the same point. As the AMD system delivered, our Intel rig was also able to get to 14-14-14-36, 2T this time, with the voltages at 1.45 VDIMM and leaving the VCCSA and VCCIO where they were.
With the same voltages used in the test above, we went for outright speed, while still maintain the 16-16-16-36 timings. Our 7740X IMC is strong, and it allowed the TridentZ NEO to run at 4000MHz, which is damn good considering the timings used!
Chad's Intel DDR4 Dual-Channel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASRock X299 OCF
- CPU: Intel Core i7 7740X - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: LEPA NEOllusion - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core
- Storage: Samsung XP941 256GB
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750 - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
Beating both the Viper Blackout and T-Force Xcalibur kits, the TridentZ NEO takes second place on the chart, only beat by the 4000MHz kit, with a 300MB/s lead on third place. Lowering the timings adds around 200MB/s rear performance, where the bump in speed offered another 400MB/s, getting very close to the performance of the Vengeance LPX!
The write performance results are similar to those found above. Second place overall for the TridentZ NEO fresh out of the box! This time, lowering the timings adds 300MB/s of boost, whereas increasing the speed adds 1900MB/s over DOCP! Again, we are also snuggling right up behind the LPX, with even less room between them this time!
We are not at all shocked to see more of the same when it comes to copy performance. Second place overall again goes to the TridentZ NEO in unfair competition against 4000MHz memory! Roughly 600MB/s better than the next in line, and if you like to tinker, there is a couple thousand MB/s to be gained.
Keeping track of latency, we can see that performance does not always correspond to the lowest latency. While the DOCP profile is the lowest, and the NEOs perform strongly at 68.2ns, and slightly better with tighter timings at 67.9ns, we got the best performance with 77.5ns latency.
Super Pi delivered mixed results. The DOCP profile is strong, still in second place, but this time the Xcalibur is ever so slightly better at crunching numbers. Our best results were obtained by lowering the timings, but as you can see, more speed tends not to do as well, but they do still perform better than the LPX!
G.Skill took the lead when it comes to the 3DMark Fire Strike Physics scores, but only using them as they are intended to run. Lowering the timings lost us nearly 1000 points, and raw speed lost even more. While a bit strange to us, we retested many times and found these scores to be repeatable.
No offense intended here, but PCMark 10 hands G.Skill their ass on a platter! The only kit that performed worse using DOCP is the Panther Rage, 1200MHz slower! While a few points make all the difference in the world, even tinkering with the NEO did not break into the top three.
Moving to 7-Zip next, we find the TridentZ NEO doing what they did up to PCMark 10, being near the top of the chart again! Out of the box, they took second place, and lowering the timings removes twelve seconds from the time. Sadly, raw speed loses ground to the tune of 10 seconds, compared to the DOCP run.
Cinebench also seems not to suit the way the TridentZ NEO memory is designed to run, as their out of the box performance is lackluster at best here. Lowering the timings takes a performance loss, but opting to clock them higher does get them into the top four.
To make it a straight eight out of ten, G.Skill again delivers results we love to see. While the TOUGHRAM is slightly better at this than the NEO, second place is nothing to be ashamed of! When it comes to overclocking, speed does better than lower timings, as they just pass the TOUGHRAM in performance.
Read performance on Intel is way up there, as the TridentZ NEO is only bested by the XPG Z1 with a 1000MHz head start over the XMP profile! Dropping to 14-14-14 adds 1000MB/s boost to the results, and getting to 4000MHz at CAS16 delivers a 3300MB/s increase, which is enormous!
Write performance on the Intel system has put the NEO in the top slot, and all you have to do to get it is enable the XMP 2.0 profile. Lowering the timings did slightly worse, but for AIDA64 bandwidth results, we can see 4000MHz at CAS16 was pushing them too far, as the hit to performance is enormous.
Again, it is another first-place finish for G.Skill! Over 300MB/s better than any competition with the XMP profile applied is terrific. Lowering the timings delivers another 1400MB/s, but we lose nearly 3400MB/s opting for speed.
Latency, compared to AMD, is backward. While the TridentZ NEO again takes to the top slot, we see lower latencies with overclocking, yet that does not always translate to better performance across the board.
Yet another first place, well tied for first place, but it's all the same to us! Unlike with the AMD system, we see that for those who like to tinker, there are advantages to be had, but they are small.
In second, by only twenty-six points, G.Skill shows well here too! Points here are hard-earned in the Physics scores, and we find that 3600MHz at CAS14 took the top spot, whereas the 4000MHz run is still eight points from the Xcalibur sticks.
PCMark 10 is pretty rough on the TridentZ Neo with Intel as well. Fourth place is a better spot to be in than we saw with the AMD system, and to be fair, the scores are close with the top four kits. Tinkering does not have a significant advantage over the XMP profile, but we do see that lower timings beat raw speed.
While in fourth place when it comes to 7-zip, realize that only the Viper Blackout sticks are comparable, without a speed advantage. However, we blew the doors off this test to the tune of fifteen seconds gained over the top-performing kit at CAS14, and ripped the roof off with the 4000MHz run, besting the first place holder by nearly thirty-three seconds!
Cinebench R15 has the TridentZ NEO in fourth place while using the XMP profile. Points can be gained by raising the speed, but in this instance, lower timings prevailed with the best possible score we could achieve with this kit.
Last is Handbrake, and transcoding on Intel with the TridentZ NEO has us in fifth place, behind the TOPUGHRAM, Xcalibur, and Viper Blackout, which match in speed, it also falls just behind the XPower Turbine, which runs at 3200MHz. Tinkering has improved on the results, and for Handbrake, speed wins over tighter timings.
While fancy heat spreaders and RGB lighting does tend to help sell DDR4, for those looking for the best of the best, it all comes down to performance for us, and to be blunt, outside of a select few runs, the TridentZ NEO memory delivered quite the punch to the competition we have it up against! With more chart-topping results that you can shake a stick at and most of the tests it does struggle with, still has G.Skill into the top half of the charts. There are a couple of instances where we wished this kit would have done better, but the majority of those hits to performance were found on the Intel system. As for AMD testing, the TridentZ NEO blasted through what we threw at it, smiling along the way, taking out the competition as we went on.
Keep in mind though, there are five kits under the NEO name, and while we cannot guarantee anything from the majority of them, our overclocking results with lowered timings do reflect what the C14 kit could do. As for the rest, we would venture to say that the out of box performance would not be as good, due to the increased timings on the Hynix based kits. Out of all of the options, we feel that we got the best of the bunch, not only due to the use of Samsung B-die memory, but because these feel like the perfect middle ground to what is offered from G.Skill.
We also liked the familiarity. Taking many of the styling cues from the TridentZ series, with only a few minor changes to the aesthetics, is something we appreciate. Even if it is just as simple as a few exposed fin tips to see when in use, those who know will immediately recognize you have a set of NEOs clipped into your motherboard. While it is nice to keep an eye on your temperatures, we only got them into the low forties using 1.45V when overclocking, and that was with no direct airflow, just room circulation at work on the open-air bench.
For those with tightly packed cases, or in passively cooled situations, the RAM will run warmer, but not to the point you should be too worried about it. We are also fans of the RGB lighting, as G.Skill not only delivers some of the best illuminations in the game, and the fact that motherboard software can control them without issue is also a plus. What we love, though, is that the default spectrum of colors displayed is terrific, and most times, when using G.Skill in our rigs, we leave it showing the default effect.
As we went shopping, selecting similar kits to go through, if you are looking for RGB DDR4, the Trident Z NEO, on Newegg, is some of the best money can buy! If it were our money, we would stay away from Amazon right now, as charging nearly $50 more from some random third-party seller does not sit well to us. If, like us, you are looking for the complete package, on either an AMD or an Intel rig, G.Skill and the TridentZ NEO deliver in performance, the aesthetic is very similar to what many already love.
At around $160 to get all of that chart-topping goodness, we fully support what G.Skill has done! For those in need of memory that falls into the sweet spot for both AMD and Intel, as well as these do, we see no reason to look any further. On top of all of that, there is plenty of meat left on the bone to try to sort out even more performance from them, and our testing is tame compared to what many users will do to DDR4. We feel there is more to give; you just need the grapes to be willing to take the loss if you go too far!
The Bottom Line
In a select few scenarios, they can falter, but on the whole, G.SKILL's TridentZ NEO DDR4 is some of the best we RAM have tested! Strong performers out of the box, a look similar to what we are all used to, and while not the most affordable, they are well worth the investment.